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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Hit the Road

How government and industry are getting behind a new breed of electric cars.
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Electric Charging Station photo courtesy of EcoTality.com

High-speed charging stations outside a BART train station in California.

Photo courtesy of EcoTality.com

Electric cars are gaining ground. Car manufacturers are rolling out new models next year, such as the Nissan Leaf and new Ford Focus, that will go about 100 miles on one charge. Private, public, and non-profit organizations are supporting consumer purchase of electric cars by launching new projects to provide charging stations.

The Electric Vehicle Project will install 15,085 electricvehicle charging stations in six states (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee) and Washington, D.C., by 2013. The project, managed by ECOtality, will install the charging stations in publicly accessible places in partnership with Arco, BP, Zipcar, Best Buy, and other companies. The $230 million cost is supported by $115 million from federal stimulus funds.

In addition, ECOtality will study 8,300 Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf drivers to learn how best to streamline electric vehicle adoption nationwide. BP plans to install over 1,000 charging stations along Interstate 5 in Oregon by next July. In support of the project, Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia have started the West Coast Green Highway initiative to “electrify” I-5. Washington is the first to start and is already installing several chargers along I-5 between Canada and Oregon.

Businesses that install a charging station can get a federal tax credit for 50 percent of the cost. Connecticut-based Green Garage Associates uses the credits to encourage sales of their “juice bar” chargers to parking lots.

Many states provide a rebate that, combined with the tax credit, covers the cost of chargers.
Massachusetts is using funding from a settlement over pollution violations to install 100 chargers, and the Beautiful Earth group built a solar-powered charging station next to its headquarters in New York. The Greenway Self-Park in Chicago and the Adobe headquarters in San Jose both have charging stations powered by wind. Even McDonald’s is installing a charging station at a location in Cary, North Carolina.

Greenwashing or not, the Baker Institute for Public Policy says electric vehicles are the most effective way for the U.S. to reduce oil consumption.


Alyssa Johnson wrote this article for What Happy Families Know, the Winter 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Alyssa is an editorial intern at YES! Magazine.

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